On Tuesday’s all-new Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, the outspoken daughter of legendary beauty icon Vidal Sassoon sat down for tea with restaurateur and dog advocate Lisa Vanderpump. The duo spent some one-on-one time together at the SUR-owner’s Villa Rosa home and got to know one another.
The two had met a few weeks earlier at Kyle Richards‘ game night, where Sassoon played referee to a feuding Kim Richards and Lisa Rinna. It was a helpful interjection that allowed the two rivals to put down their gloves and finally patch up some of their long-standing issues. But it was also a moment that opened Sassoon’s eyes up to her own inner demons and troubled past.
She had, after all, a history with Kim — having met her in 1985 when Kim was starring in 1985’s Tuff Turf. Kim’s costars in the film were James Spader, Robert Downey, Jr. and Sassoon’s later sister Catya Sassoon, who died of an overdose in 2002. She was just 34.
“For a long time, I was numb — very numb to it,” Eden, 43, admitted in a previous episode while reflecting on Catya’s death. “And completely shut off.”
Shutting herself off prevented Sassoon from truly addressing her grief. “I never really explored my sister’s death,” she told Vanderpump on Tuesday. “I just knew at some point she had to go. Here’s a woman who’s not strong enough to live this life.”
All these years later, Sassoon said she’s still unsure what her sister’s motivations were toward the end. “My sister died of a drug overdose,” she explained. “And I don’t know if she chose to or it was an accident.”
She would turn to alcohol herself. And although Sassoon never explained what drew her to the substance, she knew it was wrong. “I was a complete functioning alcoholic, having a mother recovering alcoholic and a sister who overdosed. Why did I drink for so many years?” she said.
All that changed in 2012 when her father, Vidal Sassoon, died. He was 84.
“It was six months after my dad passed,” Sassoon recalled. “I woke up really on the edge of my bed. And was like, ‘When, when, when are you going to stop? You have your life! You’ve been given a gift. You have children.’ I went right from there to a meeting.”
Now a divorced mother of two and owner of both a full-service salon and two luxury Pilates studios, Sassoon’s been sober for four years now (“I take medication, I just don’t drink”) — motivated by helping others with addiction issues achieve sober living. “I love it, and I love to poke others to awaken them to the life that I have now that I’m capable of that,” she told Vanderpump.
It’s part of the reason Sassoon was so interested in reconnecting with Kim and Kyle.
“[Kim] has the behavior of a straight-on alcoholic,” Sassoon said. “I don’t need to spend that much time [with her to know] — she’s struggling.”
“And Kyle, I see the enabling — just kind of sitting back and watching this,” Sassoon continued. “Kyle is enabling to Kim because she allows this behavior to continue. She allows her to speak in ways that a sober woman wouldn’t speak. It’s just behavior as a sister that maybe you’d want to say something … In the thick of it, you have to be willing to step away and say ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ “
Vanderpump strongly disagreed with her claims. “Kim’s great — she’s had a hard time,” she said. “She’s been up and down. I don’t have a great deal of experience in this matter. But surely if she’s sober and she’s not taking pills or alcohol, isn’t that enough?”
“[And] I don’t think Kyle enables,” she added. “No no — Kyle doesn’t enable Kim. Enabling behavior is maybe just turning a blind eye. But Kyle is not that person. I know that for sure. Kyle has stepped in many times, like really in, in the best way of it all. It’s just been a very fractious relationship, but they do ultimately love each other.”
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Of course, Kim’ battle with alcohol addiction and Kyle’s reaction to it has long been documented on RHOBH. The 52-year-old actress entered rehab in 2011 — and then again in April 2015 following her arrest for public intoxication. She left her Malibu treatment facility for her daughter’s nuptials in May 2015, but checked herself back in two weeks later. She claims she’s been sober ever since.
Though Kyle has fought with her sister about her alcoholism many times on camera — including one very heated argument in the back of a limo during the show’s first season — the two have been at a truce in recent years, with Kyle supporting Kim’s recovery.
Sassoon stood firm, though. In fact, seeing the sisters together at game night hit very close to home. “I saw all this happening and I was like ‘Oh my god I’m watching my family.’ And I just sort of lost it — I broke down,” she said. “Watching Kim and Kyle, I see Kyle possibly standing where I stand now. And that’s not having a sister.”
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She may have wanted to connect with Kim about that, but when the two came face-to-face at Dorit Kemsley‘s house a few days later, her approach was strong.
Kim was expressing how the impending birth of her grandson was stirring up some of her motherly instincts — mainly, the feeling of protecting one’s child and making sure everyone’s safe. But Sassoon took that to mean Kim was on the verge of regressing. “Do you feel like you’re holding on to this in your mind and it’s physically taking effect?” she asked her.
“Why are you having anxiety over your grandson’s birth?” Sassoon said in her confessional. “You have to take into consideration that this is something that can push all your buttons. And right there as an addict — she’s going to reach for that drink and goodbye.”
Kim blew it off — and Sassoon — and later told Kyle that she didn’t feel Sassoon was trying to help. She’ll have to work harder to ditch her in the future, though. Judging from the preview for next week, Sassoon doesn’t appear to be backing down.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.